11 July 2024

WASHINGTON (Agencies) – US firm 3M has denied allegations that thousands of its face masks destined for Germany were seized while in transit in Bangkok and diverted by US authorities on April 3.

3M told Germany’s dpa news agency that it had no reports of masks being seized, nor any paperwork on such a shipment destined for Berlin.

A German official has accused the US of “modern piracy” after a shipment of medical masks intended for German police were reportedly diverted to the states, a sign of how hot the international market for protective equipment has become.

About 200,000 N95 masks were “confiscated” in Bangkok as they were being transferred between planes in Thailand, Berlin authorities told the BBC.

Andreas Geisel, the interior minister for Berlin state, described the diversion as “an act of modern piracy” and pressed the German government to intervene and demand that Washington follows international trade rules. “This is no way to treat trans-Atlantic partners,” Geisel said. “Even in times of global crisis, there should be no Wild West methods.”

German reports said the masks had been made by a Chinese producer for the Minnesota-based 3M, but The Guardian reported that the company denied the incident occurred. “3M has no evidence to suggest 3M products have been seized. 3M has no record of any order of respirators from China for the Berlin police,” the company said in a statement. “We cannot speculate where this report originated.”